Your adventure begins in the early afternoon when you’ll meet your tour leader together with your fellow travellers for a welcome briefing followed by a visit to the Jezzine Barracks, a heritage precinct that commemorates the military and Aboriginal heritage of the Kissing Point headland. In the evening, we meet for a celebratory welcome dinner and drinks.
Day 2 • Monday:
MAGNETIC ISLAND (B, D)
After breakfast we leave Townsville by ferry to visit Magnetic Island. Named by Captain Cook, the island has lots of charm and a good deal of history. Upon arrival, you join a fully guided bus tour that covers the island’s major sights, including one or two exclusive secret spots. Throughout the day you’ll learn about history, geography, flora, fauna and what it is like to live on an island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. All this, with spectacular scenery as your backdrop.
Lunch will be had at Horseshoe Bay, and in the afternoon, you explore the Fort Complex constructed in 1943 during World War II to protect the region. Your day ends with a visit to Peter Lawson Fine Art Gallery, where you’ll meet a talented local artist who is happy to discuss any of his works. Enjoy dinner at the hotel’s restaurant this evening.
Day 3 • Tuesday:
TOWNSVILLE – TULLY – MISSION BEACH (B, D)
Farewell Magnetic Island after breakfast as we take the short ferry ride back to Townsville, where we have some free time for a coffee before boarding the Spirit of Queensland. The mid-morning departure offers a gentle run up the coast, passing by sugar fields and cane tramways weaving their way across the North Coast rail line and the Bruce and Cook Highways. You have time to purchase some lunch on the train before we arrive in Tully in the early afternoon.
On arrival you take a guided tour of Tully Sugar Mill and learn about its colourful and interesting history and the inside workings of one of Australia’s largest sugar mills, also one of the very few that continues to allow tourists. En route to spend the night at Mission Beach, you stop at the Golden Gumboot, a monument erected in Tully to celebrate its title of wettest place in Australia. On arrival at Mission Beach, we check in and you have time to explore the peaceful beach and surrounds. Later we enjoy dinner at the resort’s restaurant.
Day 4 • Wednesday:
MISSION BEACH – DAINTREE RAINFOREST (B,D)
Start the day with an early morning stroll along the foreshore of Mission Beach before our departure north. Deviating off the Bruce Highway, we stop for sightseeing and morning tea at the rather unusual Paronella Park, an oddity with a connection to the great Australian story of migration.
The journey continues to the Daintree Forest with a stop for lunch in Port Douglas. On arrival at Cape Tribulation in the Daintree, you’ll enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Day 5 • Thursday:
DAINTREE RAINFOREST (B, L)
Today is spent exploring the oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest in the world, and the largest rainforest in Australia. In the morning, you explore the diverse and extensive concentration of wildlife and vegetation of the Daintree on a river cruise, where you can encounter native birds water snakes, frogs, crabs and even crocodiles.
In the afternoon, you visit the Daintree Entomological Museum. This world-class private collection of rare and local butterflies, moths and beetles allows a hands-on experience to see and feel wildlife. Your evening is free at leisure.
Day 6 • Friday:
DAINTREE RAINFOREST – COOKTOWN (B, L, D)
Your last activity in the Daintree is an enriching tour where you will spend the morning with a local Kuku Yalanji guide, visiting some cultural sights, learning about the history of the people and how they have maintained their culture and adapted to modern day life. After lunch we depart north on the four-wheel drive road north to Cooktown. We make a few stops on the way including the Banneryearie River and further on through Cedar Bay National Park. Prior to reaching Cooktown, our last stop is at James Earl Lookout for a view of the many mountain ranges in the area.
Check-in at your harbour-front accommodation and at sunset, over the picture postcard Endeavour River, we’ll stroll to a local restaurant with the group to enjoy dinner.
Day 7 • Saturday:
COOKTOWN (B, D)
After breakfasting this morning we’ll set out to explore Cooktown. The town offers the ultimate connection with Captain James Cook, an intersection with the Guugu Yimithirr people, a good deal of mining history, an obscure long lost railway, a fascinating cultural story, and a tapestry of picturesque settings. You’ll first visit James Cook Museum, which showcases stories of Captain Cook, Guugu Yimithirr people, Chinese migration and the Sisters of Mercy.
Later in the day, a Nugal-warra elder and story-keeper Willie Gordon will take you on a magical, award-winning rock art tours to his ancestral sites, high in the hills outside Cooktown. Here he shares the stories behind the art and explains how the paintings speak of the essence of life and the lore of his people. Your day of sightseeing ends with a visit to see the coloured sands at Elim Beach. The evening is free at leisure.
Day 8 • Sunday:
COOKTOWN (B, D)
Waking to another Cooktown morning, we set off in search of the town’s railway relics on a walking tour. Some elements are still available to be viewed, long after the closure of the railway lines in 1960. On return to the Main Street, we visit the Cooktown Museum, which contains a wide array of railway displays and information on the gold rush era, general history, and stories of the many cyclonic events over the decades in the region.
After lunch, we visit the Kuku Bulkaway Indigenous Art Gallery, operated by traditional owners, the Yuku-Baja-Muliku people. You will have some free time in the afternoon to explore the town on your own, before we gather again for a walk-through Cooktown Botanic Gardens and Grassy Hill to round off the day. The day will end with great views out to the sea and to a modern-day lighthouse, followed by dinner with the group in a local restaurant.
Day 9 • Monday:
COOKTOWN – KURANDA – CAIRNS (B)
After breakfast today we head south to Cairns, where you spend your final two nights on tour. The journey takes us out in the hinterland of the Palmer River stopping at such places as Bob’s Lookout which offers a wide vista of views back towards Mount Lewis and Mount Carbine and over towards Mount Mulligan.
We also have some down time at the Palmer River Roadhouse. We will reach Kuranda in the early afternoon. There is time to explore this iconic rainforest clad town. It’s then time to take a train, the ever-popular Kuranda Scenic Railway in first class comfort. This famous railway is bought to life with excellent commentary and astounding scenery as the railway line runs over the Great Diving Range and down the Barron River Gorge to Cairns.
Overnight: Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort or similar, Cairns, (B)
Day 10 • Tuesday:
CAIRNS – OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS (B, D)
After breakfast this morning you have a few options to choose from. (Subject to numbers)
1 – Atherton-Herberton Historic Railway – After breakfast at the hotel, we depart for a tour of the region of the rich Atherton Tablelands. We start by travelling south across the Sugar Cane fields then up the steep Gillies Highway to the lush forests and farming country of the tablelands.
First stop is the excellent Mining Museum and then we take the short run to meet the team at the Herberton Historic Railway Museum. Here we learn about the restoration work and history of the railways of the tablelands before sampling it ourselves with a run along the old line to the astounding Historic Village. You have time to explore the vast collection and witness a variety of big machines in action. We return via Mareeba and the mountain road back to Cairns.
2 – Green Island – Our Island ferry takes off from the Cairns wharf and you have a full day excursion with options to do as much or as little as you like. Green Island is one of 300 sand (coral) cays on the Great Barrier Reef, but it is the only one with a rainforest. It’s a delightful place to explore, wander and swim. The island is only 1.6kms in circumference and about 600 meters across. Lunch will be provided at the Resort and if you’re interested trips on the glass bottom boat and out to the platform on the Outer reef are included. You may just want to relax by the pool or stroll the island however, and the 45-minute return sea voyage will have you back in Cairns by 5.30.
3 – Of course you’re always welcome to enjoy some free time on your own.
This evening we’ll gather for a celebratory farewell dinner together on the Esplanade at the popular Raw Prawn restaurant.
Day 11 • Wednesday:
CAIRNS – DEPARTURE (B)
Breakfast is at your leisure in the hotel and then you are free to continue your way to other awaiting adventures. Tour terminates. All out, all change. Please mind the gap!
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